How Does Your Spine Age?
As we grow older, it’s common for many parts of our body to begin to ache and stiffen. Unfortunately, the spine is also more likely to have severe medical issues arise throughout the years. Spine conditions such as degenerative disk disease and spinal stenosis increase in risk for older adults.
The truth of the matter is that while some movement and functionality might be limited when you’re older, more serious symptoms could be pointing towards a medical condition. To learn what those are, keep reading below!
Common Spine Age Issues
- Degenerative Discs: Your spine consists of bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other with discs in between each bone. Over time, those discs begin to get worn down, which causes your vertebrae to rub against each other. When this happens, you may experience back pain and stiffness.
- Spinal Stenosis: When the above happens, it can cause your spinal canal, otherwise known as the open spaces within your spine, to narrow. You’ll experience pressure on your spinal cord and pinching on your nerves, two very uncomfortable experiences. On top of that, lower back pain, numbness, and weakness in your legs are also common.
- Facet Joint Osteoarthritis: Otherwise known as spinal arthritis, this occurs when the cartilage that separates the facet joints in your spine breaks down. This happens naturally over time, but symptoms include lower back pain and stiffness. Usually, these peak in the morning and at the end of the day.
- Frail Vertebrae: This condition is more common for women and is also called osteoporosis. It causes the bones in your back to lose bone density and then become more fragile over time, which allows fractures to happen more easily.
- Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: This condition is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. This also causes lower back pain and leg pain, usually most often while standing or walking.
- Compression Fractures: More common for those experiencing osteoporosis, this happens when fractures cause the vertebral bone to partially collapse. On top of losing height, it will also cause sudden and severe back pain, spinal deformity, and inability to do physical exercise.
- Changing Posture: From age 30 and up, small changes happen when it comes to our posture. In fact, the average person will lose about half an inch of height every 10 years after reaching their peak height. This is even more true for people over 70, and our gaits may change during that time. If your posture suddenly begins to change drastically, it could be due to any of the above issues.
How to Help Your Spine as Your Age
Like most medical conditions, there are several actions you can take before things start to spiral downhill. To be proactive, consider adding any of these routines to your schedule:
- Exercise to not only keep off excess weight but also to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
- Already experiencing chronic back pain and issues? Reach out to any of Alliance Spine and Pain’s expert care team here.
- Work on your posture. While the fact of the matter is that our back begins to stoop more as we age, it could become so severe that it impacts our ability to walk. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and tall, especially if you work at an office all day.
- Up your intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Don’t smoke.
- Make sure to eat a balanced diet of veggies, fruit, and avoid red meat.
- If you’re often stressed, spend time relaxing and ensuring your back muscles have loosened.
- If you notice back pain issues often in the morning, consider investing in a more supportive mattress.
If you have any more questions about how your spine ages, feel free to reach out to the expert physicians at Alliance Spine and Pain by clicking here. We’ll be happy to help!